Introduction to Parallel Processing, Section 3

Taxonomy of Computer Architectures (Flynn 1966)

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To set a foundation for our examination of parallel processing, we need to understand just what kinds of processing alternatives have already been identified, and where they fit into the "parallel picture", if you will. One of the longest-lived and still very reasonable classification schemes was proposed by Flynn, in 1966, and distinguishes computer architectures according to how they can be classified along two independent, binary-valued dimensions; independent simply asserts that neither of the two dimensions has any effect on the other, and binary-valued means that each dimension has only two possible states, as a coin has only two distinct flat sides. For computer architectures, Flynn proposed that the two dimensions be termed Instruction and Data, and that, for both of them, the two values they could take be Single or Multiple. The two dimensions could then be drawn like a matrix having two rows and two columns, and each of the four cells thus defined would characterize a unique type of computer architecture.


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